After months of failing to enforce town rules for permits, limits on how long groups can remain in public places and smoking bans near public buildings, it took town of Chapel Hill officials only little over a week to lose patience with homeless men who had begun congregating at Peace and Justice Plaza and sleeping in tents left by occupy Chapel Hill activists. Occupy Chapel Hill activists left the Franklin street plaza on January 10th (see news article).
On January 18 Town of Chapel Hill Town Manager Roger Stancil –who has never been shy about telling others he has tried to cultivate good relations with occupiers — sent a memo to Town Council members that sounded like a man who didn’t like what was going on and was ready to change direction.
Moving forward, I plan to ensure that all adopted ordinances and established policies and procedures regulating the use of public spaces and facilities…. are enforced by Town staff to the extent possible.
My translation of Stancil’s memo: Vive le revolucion but hey, someone please take care of the homeless problem.
Occupiers didn’t take kindly to the council’s new stance. Already smarting from being forcibly removed by police for squatting in the Yates Automotive building last November, occupiers issued a statement that included the usual leftist rhetoric:
We reserve the right of citizens to assemble. We reflect the despair, dreams and sentiments of thousands of town residents angry with economic injustice and inequality at local and global levels. Roger Stancil as town manager is attempting to privatize public space with threats of arbitrary enforcement of ordinances that effectively prohibit free speech and assembly. This is a global issue that the Occupy movement organized to confront.
If you’re a good liberal you have to feel for Roger Stancil…Here’s a guy who goes out of his way to let occupiers know he wants to accommodate them. He turns a blind eye to ordinance enforcement only to have the homeless force him into a position of having to “ensure that all adopted ordinances and established polices and procedures regulating the use of public spaces and facilities are enforced by Town staff to the extent possible.”
Is it just me, or aren’t local officials required to enforce laws (local and state) and to uphold the constitutions of North Carolina and the United States? Or in Chapel Hill, do officials have the option of picking and choosing which ones they’d like to enforce?
For a wider lens on this never-ending saga see here and here.
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